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Looking back on the top stories of 2022

OH-redistricting-commission-mtg-web.jpg
OH-redistricting-commission-mtg-web.jpg

As 2022 winds down, the Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable looks back at the biggest stories of the year.

When you look back on 2022, the topic we talked about more than any other on the Reporters Roundtable in 2022: redistricting. The start of this story actually reaches back to the summer of 2021 with the first meetings of the Ohio Redistricting Commission.

The commission was tasked with drawing new legislative district statehouse maps and congressional maps. The process involved the first use of voter-reforms that aimed to make the process more fair.

Over the course of the first half of 2022, multiple rounds of maps produced by the commission were rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court as unconstitutionally gerrymandered. It ultimately led to Ohio having to hold half of its primary in May and the other half in August using unconstitutional maps to choose statehouse and congressional candidates.

The redistricting efforts led into the November election where Democrats performed a bit better than expected, winning 5 of 15 congressional seats, but overall, Ohio turned deeper red. Republicans swept the statewide executive offices. The GOP also built on their super majorities in both chambers of the Ohio statehouse and now hold what we have dubbed a super-duper majority. And former president Trump, still has tremendous clout with Ohio voters. Many of his candidates--but not all-- won in Ohio, including JD Vance for United States Senate.

2022 will go into history books as the year that the United States Supreme Court upended nearly 50 years of precedent and overturned the landmark decision of Roe Versus Wade. The decision in Dobbs Versus Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization on June 24 handed regulation of abortion back to the states and removed federal protections for abortion access for women. Ohio moved enact its so-called “heartbeat law” soon after the Supreme Court decision. But Ohio lawmakers ended 2022, without clarifying the law or passing any additional restrictions. Additionally, groups have stepped forward with plans to pursue a ballot issue to enshrine protections in the Ohio constitution.

A number of bills and proposals introduced in Ohio in 2022, activists say would harm LGBTQ people in the state. The state school board in December passed a resolution opposing the Biden Administration’s attempt to expand Title IX federal discrimination protections to LGBTQ youth by adding protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. In the statehouse, lawmakers tried but ultimately failed to pass a transgender sports bill that would ban transgender high school girls from playing women’s sports. A measure that would have required invasive physical exams had previously been dropped.

In Northeast Ohio, police reform and transparency remained topics of high interest for activists in both Cleveland and Akron. Cleveland voters last year passed issue 24 that created a revamped Community Police Commission with authority over officer discipline. In Akron, voters last month passed Issue 10 that creates a civilian police oversight board.

Cuyahoga County looked on-track to begin building a new jail this year, but it all went off the rails back in October when the proposed site for the new facility was rejected. County Council then paused all decision-making on the project until after the election. The new county executive, Chris Ronayne will be sworn into office in January.

Guests:
- Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV
- Andy Chow, News Editor, Statehouse News Bureau, Ohio Public Radio/TV
- Matt Richmond, Criminal Justice Reporter, Ideastream Public Media
- Anna Huntsman, Akron-Canton Reporter, Ideastream Public Media
- Ken Schneck, Editor, The Buckeye Flame

Leigh Barr is a producer for Ideastream Public Media's the “Sound of Ideas” and the “Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable.”